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Writing Workshop: “Writing Effective Thesis Statements,” Thursday, Sept 18, 2:30-3:20 (Stauffer 121)

If the word ‘thesis’ doesn’t inspire confidence and excitement, maybe this workshop is for you!

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If you’d like to know more about what ‘a clear and effective thesis’ really is, register early through the Queen’s Learning Commons website to participate in a highly instructive workshop with our expert academic staff. Among several important aspects of creating a thesis, you’ll learn how to

1. Identify common missteps in thesis construction.
2. Use smart strategies to develop and revise a thesis.
3. Apply a what/how/why model to evaluate the strength and clarity of your thesis.

You and your instructors will be very glad you’ve taken advantage of this opportunity!

This workshop is offered once:
Thursday, September 18
2:30 p.m. – 3:20 p.m.
Stauffer Library 121

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Copyright

We are happy to share our resources with others. All our Online Strategies and Tools are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada License.

That means that you can use, re-distribute, adapt and build upon our material so long as you

  • provide appropriate attribution: give credit, provide a link to the license, and make note of any adaptations you make to our original work
  • do not use our materials for commercial purposes
  • ensure that, if you adapt or transform our materials, you distribute them under the same CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 license.

Please email us if you have other questions or would like to access our resources in another format.

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Reading Week guilt

By Lucy Mackrell, 3rd-year Global Development major

As Reading week drew to a close, I was plagued by the feeling so common to students coming back to campus after the break – Guilt. I only got this much work done, I should have finished that essay, I should not have spent so many days “doing nothing” etc. Dwelling on this is such an easy trap to fall into, which in turn decreases your current productivity and needlessly adds to your stress levels. Here are four ways that I like to productively combat this feeling of guilt:

1. Express your gratitude. I know that personally I don’t stop and think about what happened during reading week that I am grateful for – I got to spend time with my best friend, I was able to sleep in, I had the time to exercise and I found a great new playlist. All of these things have enriched my life, maybe not my school work, but every now and then you have to stop and remind yourself that you are more than just your academics.

2. Focusing on what you can do NOW. Rather than focusing upon the point you wish you were at, take stock of everything that you have left to do. A great way to do this is making a full semester reading, assignment and general to-do list. Yes, it can be a tad overwhelming, but it also forces you to be organized for the rest of the term. Depending upon whether you like to have every minute of your day planned out, or whether you prefer to just have a loose idea of what needs to be accomplished, there is a type of organizer out there for you. Personally, I like having every minute planned; in my agenda I have a weekly set schedule with classes etc., a monthly calendar with due dates and special events, a reading list with all of the readings I need to do for each class all semester and then a weekly agenda, with room to include daily to-do lists and plans. From looking at all of these lists, I can plan out each day so I make the best use of my time and ensure that I get everything done!

3. Learn from the experience. Was there a specific reason that you didn’t get much work done? Finding this reason and using it to strategize on how to become more productive will help your study habits in the future. Whether you will use this new strategy next reading week, during exams or even in terms of balancing during the year, it is so important to understand your own learning style. If you would like to talk to someone about these specific strategies, come to Study Skills Coaching in Stauffer library every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in Rm. 143 in Stauffer Library!

4. Taking care of yourself has to be your first priority, especially taking time to re-charge after a stressful time. Going into reading week I was drained and exhausted, after taking the time to relax I feel so much better and ready to face the rest of the semester. Hopefully you do too!

Photo courtesy of Simon Cocks under Flickr Creative Commons license.

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A crisis of confidence

By Alanna Goodman, 4th-year Biology student

In one of my favourite movies, The Sound of Music, there is a scene in which the main character sings about confidence. “I have confidence in sunshine! I have confidence in rain… Besides which, you see, I have confidence in me!” She tries to bolster her confidence, after having experienced what I call a “crisis of confidence.” This is the story of my crisis of confidence.

Queen’s was not my first choice. It was my back-up. I was not accepted to the program at my first-choice school. I don’t think it would have bothered me too much, except that my friends from high school told me I wouldn’t get in. They told me my marks weren’t high enough and I wasn’t smart enough.

The sting of having proof that they might be right followed me to university. When I moved into residence, I hardly spoke to anyone because a voice in the back of my head said, “What if I sound stupid? Or what if they don’t think I’m good enough?”

But it didn’t just affect my meeting new people. It spilled into my academic life. I was afraid to speak to my professors or work in groups. Writing tests or midterms was another problem. I remember early on at university saying to myself, “What’s the use in trying? You’ll be bad at it anyway.”

Looking back at my university career, I can see the growth I have made here and the time it has taken for me to regain my confidence. I wish I could say that there was some specific trigger which helped me turn it around, but I think it was a combination of things. One of those things was interviewing to be a Peer Learning Assistant. I was interested in it but I never really believed I could get in. Receiving my acceptance email gave me a huge boost. Meeting and remaining friends with those who were supportive was also important. I will never forget the first friend I made here, who still makes me feel like I am the most wonderful person in the world. I also had to actively work at thinking positively about myself and looking at academic challenges as something I could do if I worked at it. And if I didn’t do well on something, I had to remember that it didn’t reflect my intelligence or mean that I couldn’t do better.

When you find yourself in a crisis of confidence it’s important to understand why you feel that way – it took me a while to realize the source of my lack of confidence. Once I understood what had caused it I was able to work on changing my mind set and attitude (positive self-talk). This allowed me to change my behaviour (such as acknowledging accomplishments big or small) and my situation (finding the courage to speak to professors and focus on working hard).

A crisis of confidence can strike at any time – often when we least expect it or want it to. This is why it’s important to celebrate all our little successes in life and to laugh or at least shrug off our failures and build on them. Don’t let a crisis of confidence hold you back.

For more strategies on regaining your confidence and coping with stress, check out our Stress and Coping Skills module.

Photo courtesy of Evil Erin under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license.

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Programs and services

Student smiling at peersSASS programs and services are for undergraduate and graduate students unless otherwise specified. We offer

  • 1:1 appointments and consultations for learning and writing from both professional staff and peer volunteers
  • an extensive workshop program for learning and writing at the undergraduate and graduate levels
  • an EAL support program for students through one-to-one personalized consultations focusing on writing, speaking, listening, and reading skills for students with English as an Additional Language
  • a broad selection of practical strategies and tips for learning and writing.

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Appointments

Students with a Queen’s net ID, student number, and Queen’s email may book appointments for help with academic skills, writing, and English language skills. All appointments are confidential and free for incoming and current Queen’s University students.

All appointments are booked through our online booking system.

Academic skills appointmentsWriting appointmentsEAL appointmentsPeer writing appointmentsHow to book appointmentsHow appointments workPoliciesFrequently asked questions

Academic skills appointments

For graduate and undergraduate students.

  • Want to stay on top of your academic game?
  • Behind in your readings?
  • Feeling disorganized or unmotivated?
  • Trouble writing exams?

Meeting with an academic skills specialist can help you improve your performance and confidence. We welcome all Queen’s students, regardless of year, program, or academic standing. Our team of academic skills specialists can help by coaching and encouraging you in different strategies, skills, and mindsets for learning.

Appointments are about 50 minutes long, and are free and confidential. No information will be shared unless the student gives specific permission to do so. Referrals are not required.

Before your first appointment, consider...

  • For you to feel more satisfied with your school performance or experience, what would need to change? Are there academic skills to improve? Personal habits to modify? Attitudes to re-evaluate?
  • What went well last term or year?
  • What academic (or personal) habits or skills held you back from being your best?
  • Have you run into these issues before? What helped?
  • Is there feedback from your profs that you need to address?

At your first appointment, you are encouraged to bring

  • a completed study skills and habits questionnaire
  • relevant materials, e.g., a text for help with reading, or class timetable for help designing a weekly homework or research schedule, or notes to practice summarizing methods
  • an experimental frame of mind, as finding a better approach involves trying new ideas or methods

Wait time for an academic skills appointment may be 1-3 weeks or longer during midterm and final exams.

To maximize your opportunity to meet with an academic skills specialist and allow you time to practice new strategies, we recommend that students book up to one appointment per week and two per month with the same specialist. In exceptional circumstances, the specialist may adjust this policy.

If you have questions or concerns about academic skills appointments, contact Leslie Paterson, Manager of SASS’s one-on-one programs, at leslie.paterson@queensu.ca.

Writing appointments

Undergraduate and graduate students of all faculties and levels of academic achievement and writing proficiency at Queen’s University use SASS’s popular writing service. These free, confidential appointments are specific to individual student needs, but commonly include topics such as

  • understanding an assignment
  • brainstorming ideas
  • developing an argument or thesis statement
  • organizing main points
  • revising a draft
  • improving grammar and style
  • integrating research

Please use our online booking system to book a 25- or 50-minute appointment with a writing consultant.  If you have questions about the online booking system, please see our FAQ tab.

If possible, book early—our appointments are popular!

Please click here for important information about writing appointment policies.

Having trouble getting an appointment? If you are a first- or second-year student seeking help with an assignment, you can sign up for an evening appointment with a Peer Writing Assistant (see Peer writing appointment tab). 

Frequently asked questions

How far in advance should I book my appointment?

Book appointments early—if possible, well before your assignment is due. We recommend that you book an appointment as soon as you know your assignment’s deadline. Please note that you may only have one appointment per week; students who would like a second appointment in a given week can make that request and will be contacted about a second appointment only after those on the waiting list have been accommodated.

What if I need to cancel an appointment?

We require at least 6 hours’ notice of cancellation. All fines for missed appointments are currently suspended. However, you are expected to attend any appointments you have booked or to cancel them within the six-hour cancellation window.

A student who is more than 10 minutes late for their appointment may forfeit that appointment. Students who miss multiple appointments may have their booking privileges revoked.

Which type of writing appointment should I book?

Appointments of any length are subject to availability, but, generally speaking,

  • 50-minute appointments are more suitable for longer papers and more complex issues (generating an argument, overall coherence, organizing the paper, etc.)
  • 25-minute appointments are more suitable for short questions (clarifying your purpose, grammar issues, short brainstorming sessions, and follow-up sessions).

Note that career document appointments (cover letters, personal statements, professional school applications, etc.) can only be booked for 25-minute sessions, no exceptions. 

How do appointments work?

You will have a private appointment with one of our trained consultants, who will ask you questions about your assignment and offer suggestions specific to your concerns. The session may involve working through an entire draft or only selected parts of it. Our consultants work with students at any stage of the writing process – understanding the assignment, brainstorming, outlining, drafting, and revising. Here are some suggestions for making the most of your appointment:

  • Consider in advance how you would like us to help you. Are there specific parts of a draft, or specific skills, you want to focus on? Be realistic about what you can accomplish.
  • Be prepared to collaborate. Rather than “fixing” your paper for you, our consultants help you develop your skills within the context of working through your assignment. Come prepared with questions, ideas, and your learning goals.

What kinds of writing can you help me with?

We work with all kinds of academic writing–labs, essays, dissertations, reports, and more. You are also entitled to one session per academic year to work on a cover letter, personal statement, or other application document (however, we do not work on resumes).

Please note that consultants will not work with take-home exams, no exceptions.

What should I bring to my appointment?

  • The assignment instructions. A course syllabus can also be helpful.
  • Questions you would like to ask the consultant or issues you would like addressed during the session.
  • Your notes, outline, draft or any other work you have done in advance. If you haven’t yet started on the assignment, don’t worry–we will help you get started.

Will you proofread my essay?

We cannot proofread for you. That would make us better editors, but it would not help you become a better writer. We can, however, help you become a better proofreader of your own writing. We will point out patterns of grammatical or stylistic weakness and explain how to identify and fix them; however, we mainly concentrate on structure, strength and clarity of argument, integration of sources, and writing process strategies, leaving it up to you to apply them. The responsibility for making any changes to your work rests with you.

How many appointments can I have?

Anyone registered at Queen’s is entitled to 10 appointments per academic year (please note that there is a limit of one appointment per week, per student). Appointments may be 25- or 50-minutes long, depending on the particular writing issue, subject to availability.  First-year students may also use the 25-minute drop-in sessions offered by our Peer Writing Assistants (these appointments will not count towards your 10 appointment limit). Appeals for additional sessions can be addressed to the Manager of SASS’s one-on-one programs, Leslie Paterson (leslie.paterson@queensu.ca).

When are appointments available?

During the Fall and Winter terms, appointments are available throughout the day, some evenings, and some Saturday mornings (please note that fewer appointments are offered during the first few weeks of the Fall term, during Study Weeks and Reading Weeks, and throughout the Spring and Summer terms). Evening appointments are also available with Peer Writing Assistants most evenings during the week.

Is this service only for struggling writers?

No. Even accomplished writers find writing difficult at times. At SASS, we see writers of every level of proficiency. Everyone can benefit from having someone read through a draft and offer suggestions for improvement. As Ernest Hemingway said, “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”

For more important information, please review the appointment policies tab.

EAL appointments

At SASS, we want English as an Additional Language (EAL) and international students to be able to communicate fluently and confidently while studying at Queen’s University. Our EAL programs feature one-to-one personalized consultations focusing on writing, speaking, listening, and reading skills. For example, multilingual students can book one of the popular P&P consultations (Pronunciation and Presentation Skills) to get feedback on pronunciation issues and/or practice for an upcoming oral presentation. We also offer workshops, EAL resources, and access to computer softwareInspiration and Kurzweil 3000—through the Academic Skills Lab so that students can work independently on writing and reading skills, which can improve overall fluency.

Book an introductory consultation

Multilingual students who would like language skills support should begin by booking an introductory consultation with the EAL Program Coordinator.

Request an introductory appointment

Please note that EAL students who want help with writing assignments can book writing appointments in our core writing program.

For more information, please visit the EAL Support Page.

Peer writing appointments

If you would like some writing help for a first- or second-year course, you might like to book an appointment with a Peer Writing Assistant.

What is a Peer Writing Assistant?

SASS’s Peer Writing Assistants (PWAs) are upper-year and graduate student volunteers who help other students develop their writing skills and confidence.

  • General Peer Writing Assistants can help with any paper from any subject, including science courses and including questions about English. In our online booking system, you’ll see them listed as “Name (any subject).”
  • Science Peer Writing Assistants can help with written assignments from any science discipline—e.g., biology, chemistry, engineering, kinesiology, physics, computer science, etc. In our online booking system, you’ll see them listed as “Name (Science).”
  • EAL Peer Writing Assistants are specially trained to work with students with English as an additional language on style, structure, and grammar. In our online booking system, they’re listed as “Name (EAL).”

What do PWA appointments cover?

PWAs help with understanding assignment instructions, brainstorming, pre-writing and structuring; they provide feedback and direct students to the resources they need to produce good papers. For many students, this service makes a significant difference in their academic performance and confidence.

Sessions are 25 minutes long and are collaborative—i.e., PWAs do not proofread or make writing decisions for the students they help. Instead, they help students develop their own skills in writing, editing, and critical thinking, in the context of working on a particular assignment.

When are PWA appointments available?

Please refer to our online booking system for this term’s available appointment times.

If you are booking with a PWA, please note:

  • students may sign up for only one appointment per day and a maximum of two appointments per week
  • these appointments are for first- and second-year course assignments only
  • PWAs will not help with take-home exams

How to book appointments

Students can book an appointment with a writing consultant, academic skills specialist, peer writing assistant, or English as an additional language consultant by using our online booking system.

You must register with our online booking system before you can make an appointment. If you have questions about the system, please see our FAQ tab. If you have technical problems, please let us know via email.

When you book an appointment, please indicate whether you would like to meet in person or online by selecting a choice from the drop-down menu on the booking form. Please note: All appointments are currently offered online only.

If possible, book early—our appointments are popular!

How to book an appointment in WCOnline

  • Select a date, timeslot, and a consultant. Available appointment timeslots are WHITE. (RED timeslots are already booked; BLACK timeslots are unavailable; GREY timeslots have already occurred.)
  • Note that all appointments begin on the hour or on the half-hour. For example, if you want to sign up for a 25-minute appointment at 10 am, reserve the time between 10 am and 10:30 am.
  • Click on an open (white) appointment time to open the reservation window.
  • When the reservation window opens, fill in the required information. We ask for this information to ensure you receive the best possible consultation. This information is private and accessible only to relevant SASS staff.
  • After completing the form in the reservation window, click “save” to finish. Your appointment will now appear on the schedule in red, and you will receive a reminder email with the date and time (check your spam folder if you don’t see it).

How to begin your online session

  1. Click on your appointment slot in the WCOnline schedule (where you booked the appointment).
  2. Then click on the link “Start or Join Online Consultation.”
  3. You will be redirected to the virtual appointment space. The space includes a shared whiteboard, a text chat box, and video chat windows. You have access to the virtual space as soon as you make the appointment, but your appointment will not actually happen until the time it is booked.

We encourage you to go into your virtual space before your appointment time to ensure that the connections and functions all work properly. Online consultations are best facilitated through a Chrome browser. We look forward to seeing you! If you have any questions, email academic.success@queensu.ca or call us at 613-533-6315.

What does an online appointment look like?

In this video, we show you what an appointment looks like once you book. Using the example of an online consultation with Emma, a SASS peer who supports first and second year students’ writing, we demonstrate how to join the appointment, upload your document, use the chat feature, and download your writing and comments during or after the appointment.

Policies

We at SASS want students to succeed and feel supported. We therefore do our best to accommodate as many students as we can in our appointment schedule.

Availability of appointments depends, to some extent, on demand; some times of year are much busier than others. You may book appointments weeks in advance to secure your preferred dates and times.

Academic skills appointment policies

How many appointments can I have?

Generally, students meet with their academic skills specialist about once every two weeks. In times of high demand, this frequency may be reduced; under some circumstances, this frequency may be increased. There is no other limit on the total number of academic skills appointments students may have.

What if I need to cancel my appointment?

  • All fines for missed appointments are currently suspended. However, you are still expected to either attend appointments you have booked, or to cancel them at least six hours in advance.
  • Any student who arrives more than 10 minutes late may forfeit that appointment.
  • Students who miss multiple appointments without cancelling them may have their booking privileges revoked.
  • A student may not transfer an appointment to another student or send a proxy to attend an appointment on their behalf. Any student who violates this policy will no longer be allowed to use the service.
  • Appeals due to extenuating circumstances should be made to the director.

Can you help me with take-home exams?

  • Take-home examinations cannot be the subject of any SASS consultation (this includes graduate comprehensive exams).
  • Students are encouraged to prepare for take-home exams in advance by attending our workshops, reviewing our online resources, and booking appointments to work on their general writing and exam preparation / exam-taking skills.

Can you help with course content / comment on a mark I got on an assignment?

  • SASS staff do not appraise comments and/or the grade on a marked paper, nor do they advocate on behalf of students. We adhere to a strict policy of non-interference in regard to student-instructor relations.
  • SASS staff cannot fulfill the duties of a teaching assistant. Questions about course content, including questions about citation format, should be directed to your instructor or TA.
  • Although some members of our staff teach or act as TAs or markers for various Queen’s courses, appointments may not be used for students to meet with their instructor or TA.

Online appointments

  • Students must have a viable internet connection for online appointments.
  • We encourage students to log in to their appointments several minutes before their appointment time to ensure that connections and functions are all working properly. Online consultations are best facilitated through a Chrome browser.
  • Students are responsible for uploading any document(s) they wish to discuss in their appointments.
  • Generally, online appointments at SASS have few or no technical issues, but in the case of audio or video failure, appointments may rely on text box communications / document markup only.

Appointment fines

  • Please note: all fines for missed appointments are currently suspended. However, you are expected to attend any appointments you have booked or to cancel them within the six-hour cancellation window.
  • A student who arrives (online or in person) more than 10 minutes late for an appointment may forfeit that appointment.
  • Students who miss multiple appointments may have their booking privileges revoked.

Appointment conduct

  • When engaging with SASS services, students are expected to conduct themselves in a professional and respectful manner.
  •  SASS does not tolerate subtle or overt discriminatory or offensive behaviour towards our staff or other students.
  • SASS’s team comprises skilled professional staff and peer volunteers who are trained to address the academic skills and writing needs of Queen’s students. Our staff are committed to using their expertise to work professionally and respectfully with students at all times.

Any student with questions or concerns about SASS programming or policies should make an appointment to speak with the Director of SASS, Susan Korba, at 613-533-6000, ext. 77630, korbas@queensu.ca.

EAL appointment policies

How many appointments can I have?

Students may have a maximum of one EAL appointment per week. The frequency of EAL appointments is determined during and after the introductory meeting by the EAL coordinator and the student.

What if I need to cancel my appointment?

  • All fines for missed appointments are currently suspended. However, you are still expected to either attend appointments you have booked, or to cancel them at least six hours in advance.
  • Any student who arrives more than 10 minutes late may forfeit that appointment.
  • Students who miss multiple appointments without cancelling them may have their booking privileges revoked.
  • A student may not transfer an appointment to another student or send a proxy to attend an appointment on their behalf. Any student who violates this policy will no longer be allowed to use the service.
  • Appeals due to extenuating circumstances should be made to the director.

Can you help me with take-home exams?

  • Take-home examinations cannot be the subject of any SASS consultation (this includes graduate comprehensive exams).
  • Students are encouraged to prepare for take-home exams in advance by attending our workshops, reviewing our online resources, and booking appointments to work on their general writing and exam preparation / exam-taking skills.

Can you help with course content / comment on a mark I got on an assignment?

  • SASS staff do not appraise comments and/or the grade on a marked paper, nor do they advocate on behalf of students. We adhere to a strict policy of non-interference in regard to student-instructor relations.
  • SASS staff cannot fulfill the duties of a teaching assistant. Questions about course content, including questions about citation format, should be directed to your instructor or TA.
  • Although some members of our staff teach or act as TAs or markers for various Queen’s courses, appointments may not be used for students to meet with their instructor or TA.

Online appointments

  • Students must have a viable internet connection for online appointments.
  • We encourage students to log in to their appointments several minutes before their appointment time to ensure that connections and functions are all working properly. Online consultations are best facilitated through a Chrome browser.
  • Students are responsible for uploading any document(s) they wish to discuss in their appointments.
  • Generally, online appointments at SASS have few or no technical issues, but in the case of audio or video failure, appointments may rely on text box communications / document markup only.

Appointment fines

  • Please note: all fines for missed appointments are currently suspended. However, you are expected to attend any appointments you have booked or to cancel them within the six-hour cancellation window.
  • A student who arrives (online or in person) more than 10 minutes late for an appointment may forfeit that appointment.
  • Students who miss multiple appointments may have their booking privileges revoked.

Appointment conduct

  • When engaging with SASS services, students are expected to conduct themselves in a professional and respectful manner.
  •  SASS does not tolerate subtle or overt discriminatory or offensive behaviour towards our staff or other students.
  • SASS’s team comprises skilled professional staff and peer volunteers who are trained to address the academic skills and writing needs of Queen’s students. Our staff are committed to using their expertise to work professionally and respectfully with students at all times.

Any student with questions or concerns about SASS programming or policies should make an appointment to speak with the Director of SASS, Susan Korba, at 613-533-6000, ext. 77630, korbas@queensu.ca.

Writing appointment policies

How many appointments can I have?

Students are entitled to ten writing appointments during the fall/winter school year. Appeals for additional sessions can be addressed to the Director of SASS. Students may book up to six additional appointments in the spring/summer term.

Because of high demand for appointments, students are limited to one writing appointment per week.

What if I need to cancel my appointment?

First, be aware that students who have booked writing appointments can benefit from them even if they don’t have a draft to work on. Writing consultants work with students at every stage of the writing process.

  • All fines for missed appointments are currently suspended. However, you are still expected to either attend appointments you have booked, or to cancel them at least six hours in advance.
  • Any student who arrives more than 10 minutes late may forfeit that appointment.
  • Students who miss multiple appointments without cancelling them may have their booking privileges revoked.
  • A student may not transfer an appointment to another student or send a proxy to attend an appointment on their behalf. Any student who violates this policy will no longer be allowed to use the service.
  • Appeals due to extenuating circumstances should be made to the director.

Can you help me with take-home exams?

  • Take-home examinations cannot be the subject of any SASS consultation (this includes graduate comprehensive exams).
  • Students are encouraged to prepare for take-home exams in advance by attending our workshops, reviewing our online resources, and booking appointments to work on their general writing and exam preparation / exam-taking skills.

Can you help with course content / comment on a mark I got on an assignment?

  • SASS staff do not appraise comments and/or the grade on a marked paper, nor do they advocate on behalf of students. We adhere to a strict policy of non-interference in regard to student-instructor relations.
  • SASS staff cannot fulfill the duties of a teaching assistant. Questions about course content, including questions about citation format, should be directed to your instructor or TA.
  • Although some members of our staff teach or act as TAs or markers for various Queen’s courses, appointments may not be used for students to meet with their instructor or TA.

Appointments with professional writing consultants:

  • We want to help you as much as possible, but we cannot be very helpful if you visit us the day your assignment is due. Leave enough time (at least a few days) to revise your work after your appointment.
  • You are welcome to book appointments weeks in advance, to help you plan your writing. The earlier you start on your writing, the better quality it will be.
  • Our writing consultations are not intended to be used for editing or proofreading your paper. Although our staff will point out patterns of grammatical or stylistic weakness and explain how to identify and fix them, they mainly concentrate on structure, strength and clarity of argument, integration of sources, and writing process strategies, leaving it up to you to apply them. The responsibility for making any changes to your work rests with you.
  • For in-person appointments, please bring a hard copy of your work. In-person appointments will not be conducted on laptops.
  • Students may use one writing appointment only to seek help with a job search document or other application (personal statement, cover letter, graduate or professional program application, etc.). These appointments are intended to help the student clarify and reorganize the document and do not involve editing or proofreading. The final document is the student’s own responsibility and should reflect the student’s own voice and skill level.

Online appointments

  • Students must have a viable internet connection for online appointments.
  • We encourage students to log in to their appointments several minutes before their appointment time to ensure that connections and functions are all working properly. Online consultations are best facilitated through a Chrome browser.
  • Students are responsible for uploading any document(s) they wish to discuss in their appointments.
  • Generally, online appointments at SASS have few or no technical issues, but in the case of audio or video failure, appointments may rely on text box communications / document markup only.

Appointment fines

  • Please note: all fines for missed appointments are currently suspended. However, you are expected to attend any appointments you have booked or to cancel them within the six-hour cancellation window.
  • A student who arrives (online or in person) more than 10 minutes late for an appointment may forfeit that appointment.
  • Students who miss multiple appointments may have their booking privileges revoked.

Appointment conduct

  • When engaging with SASS services, students are expected to conduct themselves in a professional and respectful manner.
  •  SASS does not tolerate subtle or overt discriminatory or offensive behaviour towards our staff or other students.
  • SASS’s team comprises skilled professional staff and peer volunteers who are trained to address the academic skills and writing needs of Queen’s students. Our staff are committed to using their expertise to work professionally and respectfully with students at all times.

Any student with questions or concerns about SASS programming or policies should make an appointment to speak with the Director of SASS, Susan Korba, at 613-533-6000, ext. 77630, korbas@queensu.ca.

Peer writing appointment policies

How many appointments can I have?

Students seeking help with writing assignments in first- or second-year courses may book up to two Peer Writing Assistant appointments per week, in addition to any professional writing appointments they may book.

What if I need to cancel my appointment?

First, be aware that students who have booked writing appointments can benefit from them even if they don’t have a draft to work on. Writing consultants work with students at every stage of the writing process.

  • All fines for missed appointments are currently suspended. However, you are still expected to either attend appointments you have booked, or to cancel them at least six hours in advance.
  • Any student who arrives more than 10 minutes late may forfeit that appointment.
  • Students who miss multiple appointments without cancelling them may have their booking privileges revoked.
  • A student may not transfer an appointment to another student or send a proxy to attend an appointment on their behalf. Any student who violates this policy will no longer be allowed to use the service.

Appeals due to extenuating circumstances should be made to the director.

Can you help me with take-home exams?

  • Take-home examinations cannot be the subject of any SASS consultation (this includes graduate comprehensive exams).
  • Students are encouraged to prepare for take-home exams in advance by attending our workshops, reviewing our online resources, and booking appointments to work on their general writing and exam preparation / exam-taking skills.

Can you help with course content / comment on a mark I got on an assignment?

  • SASS staff do not appraise comments and/or the grade on a marked paper, nor do they advocate on behalf of students. We adhere to a strict policy of non-interference in regard to student-instructor relations.
  • SASS staff cannot fulfill the duties of a teaching assistant. Questions about course content, including questions about citation format, should be directed to your instructor or TA.
  • Although some members of our staff teach or act as TAs or markers for various Queen’s courses, appointments may not be used for students to meet with their instructor or TA.

Appointments with Peer Writing Assistants:

  • We want to help you as much as possible, but we cannot be very helpful if you visit us the day your assignment is due. Leave enough time (at least a few days) to revise your work after your appointment.
  • You are welcome to book appointments weeks in advance, to help you plan your writing. The earlier you start on your writing, the better quality it will be.
  • Our writing consultations are not intended to be used for editing or proofreading your paper. Although our staff will point out patterns of grammatical or stylistic weakness and explain how to identify and fix them, they mainly concentrate on structure, strength and clarity of argument, integration of sources, and writing process strategies, leaving it up to you to apply them. The responsibility for making any changes to your work rests with you.
  • For in-person appointments, please bring a hard copy of your work. In-person appointments will not be conducted on laptops. Students may use one writing appointment only to seek help with a job search document or other application (personal statement, cover letter, graduate or professional program application, etc.). These appointments are intended to help the student clarify and reorganize the document and do not involve editing or proofreading. The final document is the student’s own responsibility and should reflect the student’s own voice and skill level.

Online appointments

  • Students must have a viable internet connection for online appointments.
  • We encourage students to log in to their appointments several minutes before their appointment time to ensure that connections and functions are all working properly. Online consultations are best facilitated through a Chrome browser.
  • Students are responsible for uploading any document(s) they wish to discuss in their appointments.
  • Generally, online appointments at SASS have few or no technical issues, but in the case of audio or video failure, appointments may rely on text box communications / document markup only.

Appointment fines

  • Please note: all fines for missed appointments are currently suspended. However, you are expected to attend any appointments you have booked or to cancel them within the six-hour cancellation window.
  • A student who arrives (online or in person) more than 10 minutes late for an appointment may forfeit that appointment.
  • Students who miss multiple appointments may have their booking privileges revoked.

Appointment conduct

  • When engaging with SASS services, students are expected to conduct themselves in a professional and respectful manner.
  •  SASS does not tolerate subtle or overt discriminatory or offensive behaviour towards our staff or other students.
  • SASS’s team comprises skilled professional staff and peer volunteers who are trained to address the academic skills and writing needs of Queen’s students. Our staff are committed to using their expertise to work professionally and respectfully with students at all times.

Any student with questions or concerns about SASS programming or policies should make an appointment to speak with the Director of SASS, Susan Korba, at 613-533-6000, ext. 77630, korbas@queensu.ca.

FAQs about WCOnline

How do I cancel an appointment?

If you must cancel your appointment, here’s what you should do

  • Ensure that you are cancelling 6 hours in advance of the appointment, in accordance with our cancellation policy (this policy does not apply to peer writing appointments).
  • Log into the SASS appointment booking system.
  • Locate your appointment on the schedule.
  • Select your appointment to open the reservation window.
  • In the reservation window, scroll to the bottom and locate the checkbox labelled “Cancel this Appointment.”
  • Click the “modify” button. Your appointment is now cancelled. You may also call the front desk 6 hours in advance to cancel an appointment (leave a Voicemail message if your call is not answered; phone messages are date and time-stamped, so you will not be charged if you have called 6 hours in advance of the appointment).

All fines for missed appointments are currently suspended. However, you are expected to attend any appointments you have booked or to cancel them within the six-hour cancellation window. A student who is more than 10 minutes late for their appointment may forfeit that appointment. Students who miss multiple appointments may have their booking privileges revoked.

I want to make my first appointment but I can't log in.

If you are making an appointment for the first time, you have to register with the system before it allows you to make an actual appointment. Please register using the link to the SASS appointment booking system. After completing the registration form, you will be ready to make appointments. You will not need to register again.

I'm having trouble navigating WCOnline.

The main page of WCOnline is the Main Schedule, and you will automatically be brought to it when you log in. If you navigate away from the Main Schedule, you can select “View Schedule” from the main menu drop-down (hover over your name in the upper left-hand corner). When using WCOnline, it is important to use the menu and pop-up windows. Using the “back” option in your browser does not always help. It can sometimes cause the browser to require a manual refresh (the browser will prompt you to do so if this occurs).

WCOnline uses pop-up windows. If your computer uses a pop-up blocker, please allow WCOnline to use pop-ups. You will not be able to make appointments without them.

Sometimes the pop-up windows can “hide” behind the main window, so if a pop-up window is not showing and you have not disabled pop-ups, try minimizing the main window—the pop-up is probably behind it.

My account won't let me reserve appointments.

If you have missed multiple appointments that you did not cancel with sufficient notice, your account may have been disabled and you will not be able to make online appointments OR you have already met the appointment limit for the day, week or academic year. Please contact the front desk at 613-533-6315 if you want to speak to the Director about securing additional appointments.

The reservation window isn't appearing.

The reservation window is a pop-up. Be sure you have pop-up windows enabled for WCOnline. On a rare occasion, it may open behind your current window. In that case, simply minimize the browser and it should be open behind it.

I want to change my password.

You can change your password through the main menu. On a laptop or computer, hover over “Welcome” with the cursor on the upper left portion of the screen, and a drop-down menu will appear. On a smartphone or tablet, you will need to tap or touch the “Welcome” message. Select “Update Profile and Password” and follow the instructions on that page. Please note that changing your password is only possible if you have filled out all the required information! WCOnline will not save your password if you do not have all required responses (fields marked with * are required).

I forgot my password.

If you don’t remember your password, all you have to do is reset it from the login page. Simply click the prompt towards the bottom of the page and a new password will be emailed to your account. The new password will be case sensitive, so it’s best to copy and paste the new password into the system rather than trying to retype it. Once you are back in the system, follow the steps above for “I want to change my password.”

I need a text-only version.

You can access a text-only version of our online scheduling service from the login page. Below the login information and password reset link, there is a link to the text-only scheduler. Simply click that link, and continue into the WCOnline scheduler.

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Graduate students

Students studying in Law Library

Graduate students have highly developed academic skills, but graduate school poses its own challenges that may prompt students to seek support. SASS can help! Many graduate students find our appointments, workshops, and resources practical and effective.

Workshops and Dissertation Boot Camp

Our graduate workshops are part of the School of Graduate Studies’ Expanding Horizons series. Information on these workshops is available here.

Consider signing up for Dissertation Boot Camp if you’re in the process of writing your thesis. SASS collaborates with the School of Graduate Studies to offer a comfortable, supportive, focused space for uncluttered thinking and writing.

Graduate Writing Lab (9:00am to 12:00pm on Mondays and Thursdays) offers graduate writing space, consultation, resources, and community, whether in-person in Stauffer’s Graduate Reading Room or online, when in-person services are not available. Bring your writing and work in a quiet, supportive atmosphere with a professional academic writing consultant right there to help if you’re feeling stuck. All graduate students are welcome!

Online resources

This thesis manager is a useful planning tool that can help you feel in control and manage your time in graduate school.

For writing support and strategies, see our graduate writing and graduate student writing groups modules.

Check out our Learning and Writing Resources section for help with

  • managing your time in graduate school
  • coping with academic stress
  • critical thinking and reading
  • developing presentation skills and addressing presentation anxiety
  • increasing your motivation and focus

Interested in learning more about communicating well with your supervisor, and enjoying a productive working relationship? Please see the resources provided by the Queen’s School of Graduate Students.

Writing and learning appointments

Many graduate students benefit from appointments with our learning strategists; we can talk with you about thesis completion, motivation, organization, managing time, and more.

Graduate students are entitled to ten writing consultations over the course of the Fall-Winter terms, and six during the Spring-Summer term, for a total of 16 appointments in a calendar year (note that you may not request to use appointments from the Spring-Summer allotment to increase the limit for the Fall-Winter terms, or vice versa).

Although it is unlikely that the individual writing consultants with whom you work will have specific knowledge of your subject matter, all Writing Centre consultants are familiar with the academic conventions of thesis and dissertation writing. Many of our writing consultants are experienced professional editors and writers; all have graduate degrees and several have doctoral degrees themselves. Some are faculty at Queen’s.

Once you begin to work with a consultant on a writing project, you may request further appointments with the same consultant to maintain continuity. Alternatively, you may wish to work with different consultants, as you may find you learn more through experiencing a variety of different consulting styles and approaches.

English as an Additional Language support

For graduate students whose first language is not English, Student Academic Success Services (SASS) offers a variety of resources including workshops, EAL handouts and books, and help with preparing for English proficiency tests (particularly for Engineering students). For more information, consult the EAL resources on this website. For specific help or guidance, contact SASS’s EAL program coordinator.

Referencing and e-thesis support

Writing Centre consultants are generalists and do not answer detailed referencing questions in specific disciplines. While SASS has general guides on hand for consultation, specialized queries should be directed to supervisors. For e-thesis support, consult the Queen’s Library’s page on how to format and submit theses and dissertations

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Online resources

students studying at Stauffer Library

In addition to 1:1 consultations and workshops, SASS has a number of resources available online to help you.

The Academic skills and writing resources section offers downloadable PDFs, tools and templates on a wide variety of topics, like time management, academic stress, presentation skills, thesis statements, paragraph structure, grammar, and academic integrity.

For Fall 2020, SASS has created Academics 101, a series of self-study online tutorials designed to introduce students to undergraduate studies online.  As well, you can review our resource on online learning and the pandemic-specific Making it work … from home, a compendium of strategies to help keep you focused and motivated while tackling your courses online during an unfamiliar and stressful period.

Our upper-year volunteers, the SASS peers (PLAs and PWAs), post a weekly blog during the fall and winter terms. Check out our archives for candid, helpful and often funny posts on surviving and thriving as a Queen’s student.

The assignment planner and thesis manager can help you plan and manage larger assignments.

The Subject-specific academic resource guide lists resources and supports across faculties and academic departments at Queen’s.

SASS respects internationally accepted guidelines for accessibility. Our resources and workshops follow Queen’s accessibility standards and are available in alternate formats upon request.

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Resources

SASS staff often come across writing and learning resources that are likely to be of interest to faculty and TAs, and we post these resources on this page. We are particularly interested in content related to aspects of academic writing and other academic skill development, but we consider a variety of topics. If you are a faculty member, a post-doc, or a TA and you’ve found a resource that you think might suit this page, we invite you to send it with a brief explanation to academic.success@queensu.ca.

Teaching

Academic writing

  • Ten ways to enhance your writing pedagogy (Centre for Teaching and Learning, Queen’s University)
  • Consider this very practical set of suggestions from the University of Melbourne for graduate students who are trying to meet the requirement of “originality” in their work; these suggestions are also helpful for those struggling with academic impostor syndrome, those having difficulty seeing the value of their work or identifying the heart of a thesis, and those who don’t feel clear about academic expectations.
  • Why writing will make you a better person (Chronicle Vitae, June 2019)

Writing to advance your career

Self-management

Supporting students

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